Bio and organic… Really?

Nowadays we ask each other, if what we are eating is really what it is supposed to be. Some of us try to be fair to ecology and look for sustainable products, avoid eating meat and only buy “bio” or organic products… What would my grandmother think, if she could see that everything healthy is now ‘bio’? Aren’t we all biological beings, that is, ‘bio’?

What is Organic? Lets see the definition of http://usorganicproducts.com/why-us-organic: “Under USDA regulations, “organic” is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.” Aha, now we know a little bit more.

Doing the groceries week after week we encounter different types of organic or bio products in every supermarket, in a food discounter, a standard one or in the specialized, certified organic supermarket. If we are looking, for  example, for: eggs. Every place has an enormous amount of organic eggs. Is this possible?  How come? Where do these happy, well fed chicken live? If never seen such a farm while traveling around, and judging by the tons of eggs that are sold, there should be many of those farms everywhere. Close to where I live, there are some ‘Bio-Bauernhöfe’ or organic farms. Some of them sell not only season vegetables, but also eggs, honey and sometimes even pork or beef. How do I know, if the eggs are really organic? In German supermarkets eggs are all and each of them marked with a seal with a series of numbers. These ciphers show a 0 (zero) for organic eggs in the first place, followed by other digits that encode the country they are from and even the original farm or producer. In this way, as a customer you can decide, if you stick to national German eggs or if you buy some foreign eggs… (http://www.deutsche-eier.info/das-ei/erzeugercode/).

The prices are a little higher than for non organic eggs, but they are still affordable.

bio_eier

German bio or organic eggs

 

Trying to buy some ecological correct chicken or organic or bio chicken in the supermarket will leave you quite breathless. I have seen half a chicken breast for up to 10 €, so that for a whole chicken breast you’d easily pay about 20€! There is even an online shop for organic chicken. http://www.biohaehnchen.de/Bio-Haehnchenbrust

Are bio turkey or chicken really happier and healthier than their counterparts?

In this article, http://www.biohandel-online.de/cgi-bin/mobil/display.pl?file=/public/HTML/2013/mb20131201.shtml, in the magazine biohandel.de, they reached the conclusion that there is no perfect type of bio turkey. The breeds used for the food industry are very prone to illnesses and are of course treated with antibiotics. There are some specifications for the bio animals, for example, they are allowed to medicate the bio turkeys only once in their life… However, the dosage will then be prolonged as much as possible. And chicken? Well, you may draw your own conclusions. I try to be conscious and I buy ‘bio’ chicken, if we ever want to eat some meat. However, last week while looking at the 10€ for the mini chicken breast, I was thinking that this chicken was maybe one of the Royal organic chicken of Prince Charles in England!

I know, some of you may be thinking that the solution is to stop eating meat and convert to a strict vegetarian diet… Mmmm, are all the biological vegetables we find in the supermarket really ‘safe’ and politically correct ;-)? Nowadays, every supermarket has its own ‘bio’ brand, always with a very green etiquette and biological sounding name, e.g. BioBio or simply Bio… Are they to be trusted? I doubt it. Bio or organic grown products are usually more expensive. Searching some web sites for tests and opinions, I found this article from one of the official TV channels in the north of Germany, the NRD. After having tested bio products in discount supermarkets, which are very popular over here, they came to the conclusion that their bio brands are ok. They taste better than conventional products and are less expensive than the products from exclusively organic-supermarkets. Are there any negative points? Of course, the long transportation having products traveling thousands of miles from other continents to get to our racks and the packing. Most of these bio-vegetables or fruits are packed in plastic trays covered with plastic… Really ecological or bio?

Bio spinach

Organic spinach from Italy

 

If we start questioning our ‘modern’ way of life… we wouldn’t be here anymore. We are more than 7 billion people on this planet. How can we get organic food for everyone? If I remember that there are millions of people suffering famine, without water and no medical care to be able to grow healthy. I consider our ‘first world problems’ and lose my appetite.

Have a healthy week!

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Food sins in the city

I’m sure everybody knows the rhetorical question ‘What are we eating today?’or ‘What should I cook?’ Very often we can’t find a practical answer. An easy way out is the ‘Let’s go get Indian or Chinese food’ But where can you get it? The restaurant on the corner, the fast food one with the Call Nr. or the supermarket?

Inspired by an Italian blog presenting instant food inspired in the Italian cooking (http://www.einespressobitte.com/un-minuto-di-silenzio-food-disaster/) I want to show you and comment some of the International delicacies we can find in supermarkets.

First of all an introduction of one of the most famous chefs in German supermarkets must be done: He is Dr. Oetker, and he is a star in every cooking discipline, from a simple soup with noodles to a chocolate chip cake. Difficult? No way. I was referring to Dr. Oetker as a he, but maybe I’m wrong and it’s a she! Dr. Oetker, a mysterious character we may encounter in German kitchens… One thing I have to recognize that his or her recipes are almost infallible, provided you can read and follow steps accurately.

Dr._Oetker_Schokinokuchen

From the German Doctor 😉

 

There are other brands in our German supermarkets, for example, Knorr and of course the no name products of best buy supermarkets such as Aldi or Lidl. These shops are famous for their super retail prices and their simple arrangements of products. In those places you find a simple rack with the open cardboard boxes showing the products and that’s it. They are also proud of having the fastest cashiers where you have to almost catch your products and put them in your caddy at an astonishing speed, almost like the Flash 😉 Nevertheless, you usually have to stand in line for a long time to be able to pay because of the 5 cashiers only one or two will be working.

Talking about international products in our supermarkets, what is one of the most popular Mexican products that you can find in every supermarket over here? Can you guess? Of course the vegetable mix, with kidney beans, red paprika and golden corn… Does it sound familiar to my Mexican readers? No? Of course not, we don’t eat that combination in Mexico. How about combining it with tuna? A Mexican tuna salad! Very simple.

However, we are more fortunate than our Italian friends, they find from the pizza burger, the newest Dr. Oetker’s creation to the spaghetti carbonara in the cup…  The French have not been forgotten. Dr. Oetker created a special line on the French cuisine, called le Bistro. All types of frozen ‘baguettes’ with several fillings, such as cheese and … Jalapeños!! Very French!

pizza_burger

The authentic pizza burger or burger pizza?

 

If you don’t know how to cook or let’s say read, or you don’t have time and love International dishes, you may then run to a mini supermarket at the gas station close to your place and grab a ‘Ristorante Pizza’ with salami, mozzarella and pesto. Lots of the so called Mexican dishes have to have red kidney beans and corn and the Italian ones, pesto of course.

Has Dr. Oetker ever been to Asia? I don’t really know, but another well known Mister, Mr. Knorr, surely has 😉  The choice of Asian specialties is huge. From Bami Goreng noodles to Asia Curry Noodles sweet ‘n sour. Very Asian!

As for people who worry about ecology and ecological products, Mr. Knorr offers the new Spaghetti Bolognese. The most “tomatoly” ( a word only invented for this sauce) Bolognese of all time with sustainable green tomatoes, especially enriched with many herbs. This is the new Knorr’s Bolognese with a fruity taste… Mmmm, I don’t quite understand the effect of the herbs in the fruitiness of the sauce, or are the sustainable tomatoes responsible? As everything is dried, made to powder packed in a small bag I still don’t get where the freshness comes from… Ah, it’s part of my imagination! The mind is very powerful indeed…

Our American friends have also a special selection of products, for example, the All American pizza! With chicken or barbecue and a thick dough, very American, of course.

To be fair, I have to mention the products we can find in mostly every kitchen, the different types of broth or soups where you only add water. This makes me think of another brand, Maggi! Do they also have international products? Italian friends, please, close your eyes and don’t read… Yes, they even have the ‘fix’ for spaghetti all’amatriciana!

How about instant typical German dishes? You can find almost everything starting from the famous “Jägersauce” or “Hunter’s sauce” a little bit similar to a gravy to add to your “Schnitzel or pork steak that you’ll still have to buy. To accompany your meat, you can choose among many side dishes to serve on a Bavarian meal such as “Kartoffelknödel”, or potato dumplings, the ready fix mixture for the salad with “real” herbs and the “Bayrische Creme” or Bavarian creme for dessert. Do vegetarians have a choice? Yes, they may buy the instant “Käsespätzle”, similar to gnocchi, but smaller and served with melting cheese… a little bit like maccaroni and cheese, no problem.

maggi_sauce

Fresh and tasty…

 

So, cooking international meals at home isn’t that difficult! Long live the chemists! 😉